Live attenuated and killed whole cell vaccines against disease caused by Yersinia pestis have been available since the early part of the last century. Although these vaccines indicate the feasibility of protecting against disease, they have a number of shortcomings. The live attenuated vaccine is highly reactogenic and is not licensed for use in humans. The killed whole cell vaccine, also reactogenic, provides poor protection against pneumonic plague and immunisation requires multiple doses of the vaccine. Against this background, a range of candidate vaccines, including rationally attenuated mutants, subunit vaccines and naked DNA vaccines have been described. Of these, an injected subunit vaccine is likely to offer the best near-term solution to the provision of a vaccine that protects against both bubonic and pneumonic plague.